Name: Damnati ad Bestias
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Ratatosk is originally a mischievous squirrel from Norse mythology, but in this context is some guy called Rhodri Viney.
He has previously performed and released music under the names Teflon Monkey and Broken Leaf, along with being a major player in bands such as Right Hand Left Hand and Vito. He has also played live and on record with Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, The Secret Show, Brave Captain, Cymbient, Little My and others far too numerous to mention.
The music of Ratatosk can be summed up in two words – miserablism and minimalism. If the initial motif is sufficiently sad and melancholy to bring a tear to the eye, then it’s explored and expanded upon with an almost zen-like repetition, using layered guitars, vocals, piano, musical saw and pedal steel.
Ratatosk is influenced more by individuals ploughing their own furrow – people such as Brian Eno, Matt Elliott, Yann Tiersen, Leonard Cohen, Arvo Part, Eluvium, Rhys Chatham, Tom Waits and William Basinski have all made their mark; along with anyone who’s sung a sad song on a cold night.
Comments on the ‘song’:
“I’ve always been fascinated by what history has occurred on any given piece of land – whether it’s a castle, a street or someone’s garden – and the amphitheatre in Caerleon is perfect for this; I fell in love with the place at first sight.
The idea for Damnati Ad Bestias (Damned to the Beasts) is based on my idea of a lonely, weary, battle-scarred Gladiator, who’s seen numerous friends and comrades fall over the years. During a moment of introspection, their tormented souls pay him a visit…”
Caerleon was one of only three permanent fortresses in Roman Britain, known as Isca to the Romans. The fortress itself was a playing-card shape, covering 50 acres of land in which the National Roman Legion Museum now lies.
Just a few minutes walk from the galleries takes you to the most complete Amphitheatre in Britain.
The building of the amphitheatre started in AD 90 outside the fortress walls, and it remains an impressive sight today. Standing in its centre, you can imagine the sights and sounds and the baying crowds. It could have been used for various games, military and religious festivals, or as a training or parade ground.
The amphitheatre was known to local folklore as King Arthur's Round Table. It was excavated in the 1920s by Dr. Mortimer Wheeler, then Director at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.
After the excavations were complete, nearly 30,000 tons of soil had been examined and removed from the site. It was calculated that the original arena wall must have risen to a height of four metres while the external wall must have reached a height of about ten metres.
An amphitheatre of similar construction is shown on Trajan's Column at Dobreta, the Roman base on the Romanian side of the Danube bridge.
It has been estimated that the timber grandstand at Caerleon contained 6,000 seats, approximately the full complement of the legion. Although undoubtedly less bloody, events and exciting re-enactments at the amphitheatre continue to attract large audiences today.